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198001Snow White and the Three PigsOpera childrens operaWebber J
198002Elegiefor cello and stringsFaure G arr Webber
198003Cello Concertofor cello and stringsHaydn FJ arr Webber
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198607SonataDuo for horn pianoWebber J
198705SonataDuo for flute pianoWebber J
198805SonataDuo for cello pianoWebber J
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My Image
My Image

John Webber - London Gentlemen

musical for voices and orchestra

  • wm 201708
    My Image

    John Webber
    London Gentlemen
    musical for voices and orchestra

    wm 201708

  • mp3 Act 1

    overture

    Act 1 no 1

    Act 1 no 2

    Act 1 no 3

    Act 1 no 4

    Act 1 no 5

    Act 1 no 6

    Act 1 no 7

    Act 1 no 8

    Act 1 no 9

    Act 1 no 10

  • mp3 Act 2

    Act 2 no 1

    Act 2 no 2

    Act 2 no 3

    Act 2 no 4

    Act 2 no 5

    Act 2 no 6

    Act 2 no 7

    Act 2 no 8

    Act 2 no 9

  • score
  • lyrics

    LONDON GENTLEMEN 

    A Musical Play in Two Acts
    Book & Lyrics by John Gehl — Music by John Webber 

    A young girl is rescued from the notorious procuress Mother Needham in a daring raid by 18th-century London's greatest artists and thinkers. They are left exhilarated and determined to embark on further secret adventures. 

    SETS: The main action takes place in William Hogarth's elegant artist's studio and later at the exterior of Mother Needham's bawdy house. There are several other quick scenes, involving lighting changes and props but not requiring sets. 

    CHARACTERS:
    Henny, a sixteen-year-old country girl desperate for work in London. 

    William Hogarth, the renowned 18th century London painter, engraver, social critic, and philosopher. 

    Jane Hogarth, the artist's wife. 

    Samuel Johnson, the most celebrated scholar of the age and the creator of the first English-language dictionary. 

    Ester Thrale, a friend of Dr Johnson. (A dancer's role.) 

    Oliver Goldsmith, Irish comic playwright ("She Stoops to Conquer)" and novellist ("The Vicar of Wakefield"). Also known as "Nolly." 

    Alexander Pope, author of the classic poem "The Rape of the Lock." 


    Pope is a short man with a bent spine. 

    Henry Fielding, novelist and author of "Tom Jones" and other works. David Garrick, the foremost actor of 18th century England. 

    Jonathan Swift, author of "Gulliver's Travels" and "Tale of a Tub" Mother Needham, a notorious London procuress. 

    Mother Needham's girls The London poor 

    —ACT ONE — 

    [We are in William Hogarth's elegant studio and showroom on the main floor of his three-storey house at Covent Garden. HENNY enters the large art-filled studio, looking for Hogarth.] 

    HENNY
    [calling out happily] 

    Hogarth!... Hogarth!... HOGARTH!.. Where on earth are you, you wicked man? 

    [SONG]

    Come out right now I'm looking for you Come out and feel the morning dew 


    Come out come out Jump over the bar Your morning star Is here for you 

    I need you here
    I want you now
    and want you here So be a dear
    And come to me here I don't care how
    I want you now. 

    Hogarth! HOGARTH! 

    HOGARTH [entering from the rear] 

    Don't address me like that again, child! Regard me as your father. Call me sir, if you must call me anything. But don't talk to me as though I were one of your little playground friends. I'm not your plaything. Nor are you mine -- all's the pity. You are just 16 years old. 

    HENNY
    That isn't the way you talked to me at the park, sir. 

    HOGARTH 

     


    Forget how I talked in the park. 

    HENNY
    At the park you touched my hair. 

    HOGARTH
    In case I might want to paint it. 

    HENNY
    Sir, I believe you were looking to prove your manhood to me. 

    HOGARTH 

    Oh dear me, child. No, no. I don't need to prove my manhood to you or anyone else. I was just playing with you. My touching you was just a little game. A father/daughter game. 

    HENNY 

    And who won that game, sir? Of course, I was honored to receive attention from such a mature man. And I was so hungry for food. 

    HOGARTH
    Yes, and I gave you a biscuit, did I not? 

    HOGARTH 

    I had just two. I gave you one, although I like to eat two when I go on one of my walks. But because I gave you one, I had just one for myself. I'm a little hungry now myself, on account of you. 


    HENNY
    I'm sorry, sir. I know the feeling. I am still very, very hungry. 

    HOGARTH 

    Hungry, but certainly appealing. You are quite the coquette for a country girl. Quite the charmer. Why is that? 

    HENNY 

    Perhaps because I am still so hungry! Don't you have have any food in this gigantic house? 

    HOGARTH 

    I really don't know. The kitchen is my wife's domain, and she not here, thank the Lord. She's visiting her sister. 

    HENNY
    0h, sir, I am still so hungry! 

    HOGARTH 

    Oh, I believe you, I believe many girls are hungry. Even boys are hungry. Alas, that is the way of the world. But by the time you finish the work I brought you here for, my wife will be back and will surely feed you something. 

    HENNY 

    Of course, sir. I was honored to receive attention from such a mature man, and feel his hands and eyes enjoying me. 


    HOGARTH 

    I was exploring you, not enjoying you... Enjoyment was secondary. As I told you, I am an artist. When I poked you over, I was thinking of London... Why are you smiling? Are you laughing at me, child? How old are you? You're quite the coquette for a country girl. 

    HENNY
    Seventeen on my next birthday. 

    HOGARTH
    And when is that next birthday of yours? 

    HENNY
    Seven months hence, sir. Do you have any food, sir? I'm very hungry. 

    HOGARTH I don't know. 

    HENNY
    But I'm so hungry. 

    HOGARTH
    Many, many girls are hungry. 

    HENNEY 


    And I have no place to live. 

    HOGARTH 

    Yes, thousands of young girls are in that same predicament. I will certainly point that problem out in my satirical engravings. Don't worry yourself. You have good looks, intelligence, and high spirits. Your future is assured. I feel certain. 

    HENNY 

    Thank you sir. You are a lovely person, and a very cheerful, good- looking, mature man. I like you. 

    [SONG, Henny, "I love your maturity" Henny: 

    Your maturity's something quite special Your magnificence
    Has quite caught my eye
    My prosperity 

    Quite lies at a low point
    Your beneficence might just keep me alive. 

    Your composure is something quite striking Your eyes are quite to my liking
    If you'll have me -- I'll continue on living 


    If you discard me -- I fear I'll start dying. HOGARTH: 

    My wife though would not be pleased with me, So to save ourselves unwanted strife,
    And to help me to live my life in bliss,
    If we're found by my wife, just lie! 

    Together: 

    We can just be good friends, always good friends, Never do things unseemly,
    Though we bend certain rules,
    we're neither of us fools. 

    And we have all the tools to be be good -- 

    But these things are not taught in the schools, It's not very clear how they work. 

    [They dance together sweetly.] 

    HOGARTH
    I'm a much older man. 

    HENNY 

    I'm a very young girl. 

    HOGARTH
    I know. I love young girls. 

    [JANE HOGARTH appears from the rear.] 

    JANE
    What in Jesus name is going on? I don't like what I am seeing. 

    HOGARTH 

    Jane, why on earth are you here? You have never come to my studio before noon. Never! And you were supposed to be visiting your sister today! 

    JANE 

    I'll ask you again. What is going on with you and this child? And how much longer are you going to show me disrespect? Forever, I suppose. 

    HENNY
    He has the greatest respect for you, ma'am. 

    JANE
    How dare you speak to me? 

    HENNY 

    I'm so sorry, ma'am. 

    JANE [softening] 

    It's almost afternoon. Did you have breakfast this morning?... You may speak now. 

    HENNY
    No ma'am. Not today. 

    JANE 

    For the love of God. How do young people stay alive these days! ... Well, go downstairs and tell Sarah I want her to slice you a nice piece of ham from last night. And drink some tea. Then, when you've finished the ham and tea, come back up here and do whatever it is that Mr. Hogarth wants, providing it's decent enough. Go now. 

    HENNY [curtseys]
    Yes ma'am. Thank you ma'am. 

    [HENNY exits to the rear.] 

    HOGARTH 

    Thank you, Jane. Once again you've proved yourself London' best wife. 

    JANE 

    All of London! What an accolade! Now I can hold my head up in
    the market when I am shopping for carrots and onions... Do you feel no shame for bringing that little tart into my house? 

    HOGARTH 

    Why do you call her a tart? She's just a sweet young girl who has come here to make her life in London. She's hungry. Thank you for giving her a piece of ham. It was very good ham. 

    JAN 

    And what kind of life will that sweet young girl have in London? The life of a whore, coupling with men with clothes in tatters and hair smelling like seaweed ... The newspaper last week said that two of every five London women are whores, can you imagine? And your sweet Henny is one of them. 

    HOGARTH
    Henny is not a woman, she's a girl. 

    JANE 

    Oh, use your brain. You still have a brain, haven't you? She's a whore, for God's sake. Are you stupid? Where did you meet the tart? 

    HOGARTH 

    In the park. Not really in the park but at the edge of the park. I believe she was taking a walk. And that's what I was also doing -- I was taking a walk. I greeted her with a gesture of civility. She returned my good wishes in a most courteous and civil fashion. We started walking side 

    by side. Not actually side by side. She walked, respectfully, a half step behind. The girl may be a coquette but she's not a tart. It was really at the edge of the park. Almost not in the park at all. 

    JANE
    And why was she in the park? Where was she going? 

    HOGARTH
    Jane, how should I know where the little girl was going? 

    JANE
    Because you always chat the young girls up. 

    HOGARTH
    Every man does that, confronted with a young girl. 

    JANE
    She confronted you? She stopped you for sex? 

    HOGARTH 

    No, no. Of course not. I didn't say that. She didn't stop me. It was I who stopped her! 

    JANE 

    You dare tell me that! 

    HOGARTH
    You misunderstand. Are you trying to misunderstand? 

    JANE 

    No, I'm trying to understand why you married me, if you prefer to spend your time around tarts and pimps and gamblers. 

    HOGARTH
    I rarely gamble. 

    JANE
    Lovely. Then our fortune is safe, if you don't plan to gamble it all away. 

    HOGARTH 

    Not our fortune, my fortune, thank you very much. My paintings have made the Hogarths rich. 

    JANE 

    Yes. But when we eloped, I loved you so much, all those years ago. In spite of my father, who taught you how to paint and how to do your satirical engravings. My father wanted me to reject your courtship. 

    HOGARTH
    Do you still love me, Jane? 

    JANE 

    Of course I still love you. We're married... We live together as man and wife. 

    [song] 

    Living together is
    A way of knowing, growing, slowly building
    a dream. 

    Living together is
    A time for hoping, hoping, Roping up a
    cliff. 

    Whatever love is
    Is what I have and want, I know more about it than A French savant.
    I want it, need it
    Hold it so dear,
    Give me some time and I'll make myself clear. 

    HOGARTH
    Jane, you touch my heart. 

    JANE
    And yet you still have your fondness for tarts. 

    HOGARTH 

    Oh for God's sake, Jane. Why do you go on and on and on about tarts? They're just women and girls. 

    JANE 

    I just wonder what my father would have thought about his son-in- law's fascination with common prostitutes. 

    HOGARTH 

    Ah, yes. Yes indeed. What would your father the great celebrity artist Sir James Thornhill have thought? He would have thought that whores have no money to commission formal portraits, and no families to pose with them -- and so they should just drown themselves in the Thames and go straight to hell... But life is more than your father's society portraits, Jane ... even though I've done a few society portraits myself, just for the money, as your father did -- your father, who didn't want me in his family, who fell ill with venom when we eloped. 

    JANE 

    You never miss a chance to sneer at my father's memory, God rest his soul. Even though he taught you all he knew about the making of art. 

    HOGARTH 

    Yes, all HE knew about art. But I have long since surpassed him as an artist. I may have begun life bringing food to my own father in debtor's prison, and I may have been a pupil in your father's art academy, but on my own I've become a man of substance and distinction. I'm a far greater artist than your our father was. 

    JANE 

    Yes, you've surpassed him. I acknowledge that. That you're a great artist, Billy, I have no doubt. But, God help us, tell me why you think of nothing but tarts. 

    HOGARTH 

    That's not true, not true at all. I also think of drunks, and muggers, and pickpockets, and jailers, and murderers. I think of the people in the streets and in the taverns, and I think of people in their kitchens and bedrooms. I am an artist, Jane. I think of other things than tarts. I seek knowledge and experience. I think always of my art, and always of life. I live the artist's life. 

    [SONG, Hogarth and Jane, "The artist's life"]
    HOGARTH:
    [Speaking: The artist's life isn't like onions at the market. -- 

    [Singing:
    The artist's life is the blood in his veins It has chosen him -- not vice versa, 

    It imprisons him in chains,
    And he turns it to art but for artistic inertia. 

    JANE (singing)
    The artist lives near the home of the devil,
    A level below, where foul creatures roam,
    A place where lechers and women together revel, RA level far from health and sanity of home. 

    TOGETHER:
    We disagree here, surely! We have two visions of life! 

    HENNY: One of us seeks the NOBLE -- HOGARTH: One of us seeks the TRUE -- 

    TOGETHER:
    We best discuss this issue Some other time.
    On that we do agree. 

    JANE 

    How nice that you assure me that you have such pure and moral motives for tramping through the slums and parks and every other place where tarts hang out. I feel so comforted. 

    [HENNY returns from the downstairs kitchen.] 

    Well, dear child. You're back with us. Did you get the ham I sent you downstairs for? 

    HENNY 

    Ma'am, thank you, yes I came to say that a Mr. Ralph Lozon from downstairs hurt his foot and can't climb the stairs — do you know the gentleman I mean? — 

    JANE 

    Of course I know who you mean. This is my own house, why wouldn't I know who you mean? Ralph is my footman. Kind, loyal, competent man. A remarkable man. I will keep him. 

    HENNY 

    He told me to tell you that the gentlemen have arrived here and are waiting in the downstairs foyer. 

    HOGARTH 

    What?! Oh dear Lord, we can't keep them waiting in the downstairs foyer. These are the greatest men in London and the greatest of this century, along with myself of course. Jane, please greet them for me. Henny, you stay with me while Jane is gone to fetch my guests. [Exit JANE to greet the guests.] Henny, my child, this is an important assignment for you. If you perform it well I will give you a good recommendation for your employment search. I wish you well, dear girl. I really do. But don't dwell on our meeting earlier today. Forget it ever happened. 

    HENNY
    Yes, sir, thank you sir. You're very kind to me. 

    HOGARTH 

    Yes, I am. Now here is what I want you to do: stay with my guests and be sure their needs are met. Their glasses must never be empty. Do you understand? 

    HENNY
    I know what empty means, sir. I feel empty almost always. 

    HOGARTH 

    Clever girl. Brilliant girl. Fill their glasses when they become half- empty. I want to see full glasses and happy guests. Let me tell you who these guests of mine are: There is first of all the greatest scholar in England and the world, Dr. Samuel Johnson: He is writing a dictionary of the whole English language. Think of that! An extraordinary man. He twitches and shakes and blinks like an 

    idiot. [HOGARTH comically pantomimes Johnson's twitching, shaking, blinking.] But pay him no mind: his twitching and shaking and blinking are part and parcel of his genius... 

    And you will be serving my very good friend the novelist Henry Fielding. Do you know what a 'novel' is, my child? It is a thing quite new to the world. My friend is charting the way for others to follow. 

    HENNY
    I have heard of novels, sir. I have never touched one. 

    HOGARTH 

    But you've heard of them. Good for you. Clever girl, clever, clever girl. Also accepting my invitation is another author, Oliver Goldsmith, one who writes both novels and plays. Have you heard of his play, "She Stoops to Conquer"? 

    HENNY
    No, sir. I have not. 

    HOGARTH 

    A comical masterpiece. A shy young man stammers horribly any time he is near a woman of quality, a woman suitable for marriage. Can you guess how the shy young man's problem is solved and he wins the quality lady after many comical misadventures? Can you guess?... But I shouldn't tell you because you might want to go to the theater and see the play yourself. 

    HENNY 

    I won't, sir. I will want to, but I won't go. I've never been to a theater, sir, not ever. 

    HOGARTH 

    You need to cure that neglect, and visit the theater as often as possible. There is much amusement to be found, much wit. Also much depravity, of course. Stay clear of the depravity, you're too young too enjoy it. But one has to experience the good and the bad together, isn't that right? Actually, both the good and the bad are better that way, isn't that right? 

    HENNY 

    Yes, sir. 

    HOGARTH
    Did you enjoy our leftover ham? 

    HENNY
    The ham was lovely, sir. Do you always eat so well, sir? 

    HOGARTH 

    Yes, I do. But you should not ask me a question like that, it's inappropriate. I'm an artist of consequence, and you are... you are... just a girl. Anyway, Dr Goldsmith may want to fondle your breasts. It relaxes him. I'm sure you'll be a good sport about it... He's had some medical training in Ireland. That is no doubt the basis for his interest in women's breasts.. 

    And then there is David Garrick, a dear friend and the greatest actor of the English stage. And finally there is little Alexander Pope, who wrote "The Rape of the Lock" and other charming verses. That little fellow can rhyme anything with anything. 

    HENNY
    No painters, sir? No engravers? 

    HOGARTH 

    I am the painter and I am the engraver. None other is needed, because none other is worthy of this assemblage of London's most distinguished personages. Oh, I forgot Dean Jonathan Swift, who has given us the remarkable "Gulliver's Travels." You must read it, he's an 

    absolutely brilliant man, who thinks better of horses than he does of humans. I think he has a point. Oh, now here they are. Stand up. Stand up! Stand up! 

    [HENNY and HOGARTH stand; enter JOHNSON, POPE, FIELDING, GOLDSMITH, GARRICK, and SWIFT, who arrange themselves in seats set out for them around the room, but who will individually stand again and move around as the discussion proceeds.] 

    HOGARTH
    Here they are, here they are!
    I'm so excited
    Here they are, here they are
    Let us show them they've been sighted!
    For first we have the most learned of the land —
    Dr Samuel Johnson
    And then our little friend Pope
    Whose 'Rape' is known to all
    And then our Mr Fielding
    Whose 'Jones' is known by just as many.
    And then Goldsmith and Garrick
    And here steps Dean Swift
    Whose 'Gullver' was to all such a gift —
    Welcome all, good sirs, welcome
    To the little studio of Billy Hogarth.
    Yes, welcome to all. I am honored that you've come today, and 

    honored and humbled that you are my friends. Henny, our serving girl today, will bring you your drinks of ale. Of course, tea for
    you, Dr Johnson. Ale for the rest of you. If you have any special requests — such as the imported gin that is destroying the very heart and soul of England —just tell our girl Henny as she comes 'round to you. 

    [HENNY begins to serve the gentlemen. JANE exits to return downstairs to supervise her staff in the kitchen.] 

    DR JOHNSON
    Why are we here today, Mr Hogarth? Do you have a question for us? 

    HOGARTH 

    The question is London, sir. What do you see when you think of London? 

    DR JOHNSON [obviously amused] When I think of London, sir, I think of life! 

    HOGARTH
    You think of life? Rather than injustice? What do you mean by life? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    I mean people. Bookstores. Laughter. Games. Shopping. People drinking coffee, people drinking tea. I mean people in London engaged in London living, leading London lives. That is what I mean by life. 

    [SONG, "London Living"] 

    London living London life, London joy
    in a London rife with abounding pleasure, 

    of course with a measure Of trouble and strife 

    London living London life, London fog
    Can't be cut wth a knife in a London filled with abounding pleasure, 

    And also with treasure
    If you can handle a knife. 

    Tired of London?
    Then you're tired of Life! For living in London offers all that life affords --
    and gives to Londoners 

    all of life's rewards. 

    London is living, London is joy London is Heaven 

    for girl and for boy
    Living in London makes you Break into dance
    Living in London makes your feet want to prance! 

    [speaking]
    (Though not myself a dancer
    I often feel the need to prance.) 

    [speaking]
    FIELDING: Then why not prance, Dr Johnson? SWIFT: And why not dance? 

    DR JOHNSON: I don't know the steps! ... Ah, Mrs Hester Thrale!... Would you care to use this occasion to give me a little lesson? 

    [his friend Hester Thrale appears, and they dance as in a dream] [then reprise, "London Living"] 

    DR JOHNSON 

    In short, London is a place, sir, not a question. I would refer you to my dictionary but I am only up to the letter 'm' and 'question' of course begins with 'q' -- so it falls off the known universe, as it were. But it will 

    not evade my capture forever. It will in due time come into my grasp. What questions do you have about London? 

    GARRICK 

    Sir, let me speak for my good friend Hogarth. One question would be: How is it that we -- and other gentlemen like us, many of them our friends -- can be leading London to world greatness ... while the city itself is a teeming cesspool of moral degradation? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Oh, people are simply taking their pleasures. London is not just a Palace of the Mind, it is a Palace of Pleasure. A palace of fornication and drinking and mindless amusements. Keep your mind at ease. Carry two handkerchiefs, one for show and one for blow. Each has its purpose. 

    POPE 

    Mindless amusements indeed! I agree wholeheartedly. Amusements are the happiness of those incapable of thought. What they are is time-wasters for mindless and worthless people who spend their days and nights in taverns. 

    SWIFT 

    Ah. Taverns bring about much misery, much insanity. A tavern is a place where madness is sold in a bottle. 

    FIELDING 

    That certainly is true, Dean Swift. Men stagger from one tavern to another and then another and then yet another, before finally staggering home to their wives. I don't know what the answer is to this 

    depraved situation. It is bad men who are spending all their days and nights in taverns. And it is easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good. 

    GARRICK 

    And surely card-playing is just as bad as tavern-going. I think we all agree, good fellows, that everything without exception can be done to destructive excess —the drinking of ale and even the playing of cards. Cards, which were intended to amuse, can be used instead to enslave the minds of those who pick them up. 

    HOGARTH
    Dr Johnson, why do you suppose this condition exists? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in dreams of future felicity... The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure in the present but from hope to hope in some unknown future. 

    [JOHNSON &THE OTHER GENTLEMEN] [SONG, "In some unknown future"] 

    In some unknown future we'll find joy Our hopes will lead us to felicity.
    Our minds will smile at our duplicity
    The future will save us -- or we'll be lost. 

     

    In some unknown future we'll grasp at falling snow We'll touch the sky and hold it in our dream
    The present will just grind and disappoint
    The unknown future will provide the gleam. 

    Never will we seem to lose our way
    Never will we fail to have our say
    We will always be fine gentlemen born free Looking to find tomorrow under any nearby tree 

    HOGARTH [calling over to GOLDSMITH, who is whispering to HENNY and holding her close; the two have moved away from the others]. 

    Dr Goldsmith, why are you so silent
    today?... Dr Goldsmith! Dr Goldsmith! Nolly, can't you hear us? You need to come closer! 

    GARRICK 

    Poor Nolly is, I'm afraid, an idiot. In fact, that's exactly what Reynolds has called him: an inspired idiot. I think that's very apt, because our friend Nolly's "She Stoops to Conquer" is very droll, very droll. 

    FIELDING
    Very droll indeed. I've never laughed so much. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Forgive me, Mr Fielding, but I have learned never to heed one writer's comments about the works of another unless the two are in two different rooms and cannot hear a single word the other says. 

    SWIFT 

    That is an excellent observation, Dr Johnson. However, in the present case, our room here is very large and in any case it's evident that our friend Goldsmith can no longer hear us, because as you can see he has moved as far away from us as he can get -- and he seems quite entranced by that young girl Henny he is clearly trying to seduce. If seductionis even necessary. 

    FIELDING 

    I think it won't be. He shouldn't have much trouble tupping that little cupcake. She may be ready for the streets right now. One can see it in her eyes and in the ways she moves her body. 

    GARRICK 

    Yes, she's certainly well-aware of her upper-body treasures. When she fills our glasses she makes sure she also fills our imaginations. She moves around like a wanton actress. 

    FIELDING 

    Mr Garrick, is there any kind of actress other than wanton? As the leading man of London theater, you of all men should know. 

    [Garrick, SONG, "Actresses"] 

    None are more fun than actresses
    Who strut themselves on stage or mattresses. 

    With sunny dispositions
    And provocative positions
    Their goal is always giving people fun. 

    None are more charming than ladies of the stage
    In love or wars they always win whatever wars they wage. 

    Like lawyers or physicians They are masterful technicians Who do not leave the field Until the war is won. 

    Actresses! They're so very kind and very sweet
    They sweep men off their feet!
    Actresses! May they live on forever!
    As most of them do -- while pretending when they're fifty-five That they are still just twenty-two! 

    Actresses! When gentlemen they meet They do give those gentlemen a treat! Actresses! May they live on forever!
    If not in the mirror at least on the street. 

    GARRICK 

    A quicker answer to your question would be: wantonness reigns ... thank God. 

    SWIFT 

    Let's not thank God for wantonness. Let us credit womanhood -- God's greatest creature, whether wanton or otherwise engaged. 

    FIELDING 

    Then God bless womanhood. [Glasses raised by all except far-away GOLDSMITH.] 

    HOGARTH
    Mr Goldsmith, if you can hear us, raise your glass. 

    FIELDING (laughing)
    If you can not hear us, continue seducing that poor sweet girl. 

    [GOLDSMITH and HENNY remain seated and in close conversation. After a bit, they returns to the others.] 

    GOLDSMITH 

    I confess I haven't been listening. I hope you will forgive me, all of you, but especially Mr Hogarth, our gracious host. I have been in deep consultation with the lovely young lady, Henny, to whom I have been offering my advice -- as a physician and as a man of the world. Again, my apologies to all for my inattention. I will return to your good company after I accompany the girl to her destination. It is not far away. I shall return soon. 

    HENNY 

    Mr Hogarth, I should like to thank you and your lovely wife for the kindness you have shown me, but I must leave you now, to pursue my dreams. God bless you. 

    HOGARTH 

    Godspeed to you both. Dr Goldsmith, we will look forward to your return both to our company and to your more usual state of exuberance. Perhaps when you do we will, once more, enjoy your dancing on the table, Dr Goldsmith. Again, sir, Godspeed. 

    [They exit. HENNY, however, turns and looks around.] 

    [SONG, "In pursuit of my dreams."] 

    In pursuit of my dreams I'll do anything I'll take on cold I'll take on heat,
    I'll do as I'm told or maybe cheat
    I'll do whatever it takes for me to eat. 

    In pursuit of my dreams I'll do everything, I'll shovel coal, I'll shovel peat
    I'll drink champagne, I'll chew on meat, Anything Lord -- but let me eat! 

    For Heaven must protect me 

    If I'm to last the day
    Chances are I'll surely die
    If fortune fails to come my way 

    POPE
    What will become of the poor girl? 

    SWIFT
    Nothing good, Mr Pope. 

    GARRICK Something bad. 

    POPE
    Oh dear. Oh dear. 

    [BLACKOUT; music, as time passes; then the lights come back up] 

    FIELDING [to all]
    When do you think Goldsmith wlll return? 

    HOGARTH 

    I have no idea. There is no predicting Nolly... Perhaps he won't come back to us at all. Maybe he went off with the young girl for good. I wouldn't be surprised. 

    POPE 

    If Mr Goldsmith is unpredictable, it means he's just a man, and no one should expect clockwork of a human. Man is not a timepiece, but a conundrum; in fact, he is the glory, jest, and riddle of the world. 

    GARRICK 

    Mr Pope, are you quoting us from one of your own verses? Should you be doing that? 

    SWIFT 

    Mr Garrick, he's not quoting his own verse, he's merely alluding to it; there's no sin in that. He is just strutting on the stage, such as an actor would do... I have heard you described as the greatest actor of our times. Don't you ever strut upon the stage? 

    GARRICK 

    No, I never do any such thing. Acting is not the business of strutting but the business of understanding -- understanding the minds and souls and modes of speech of those whom we portray. 

    SWIFT
    So whom are you portraying now? 

    GARRICK
    I am portraying myself. But I could portray anyone at all. 

    FIELDING
    Could you portray our friend and comrade Nolly Goldsmith? 

    GARRICK 

    Indeed. Anyone at all. I would think about Nolly until I knew everything about him, and then I would act accordingly. I would become Oliver Goldsmith. 

    HOGARTH
    Well, David, do that for us now. 

    GARRICK
    What do you mean to say? 

    HOGARTH 

    I mean to say that we are worried sick about him. My friend,why don't you make yourself become him — so that you can tell us where he is, and what he is doing, and when he will return. 

    FIELDING 

    One doesn't have to be an actor to do that. Mr Goldsmith is no doubt somewhere tupping that girl Henny. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Mr Fielding, even in jest you should not cast cynical aspersions on one of our great comrades, although it is perhaps acceptable to laugh at his foibles. Mr Goldsmith is a great man. There is no kind of literature the poor man has not attempted and adorned. I'm sure he'll return to 

    us soon. 

    SWIFT
    And will the girl be with him on his return? 

    FIELDING
    Perhaps not. Perhaps not. 

    SWIFT Why not? 

    FIELDING 

    Because London is London! It can devour its women and children. Babies of gin-soaked mothers are thrown away to death by drowning, with scores of tiny bodies found floating in the Thames, along with dead cats. And young girls are forced to choose between 

    starving or selling their bodies on the streets. I often wish to leave London and go elsewhere. London is so exhausting, so immensely tiring. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Sir, don't yield to such temptations. When a man is tired of London he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford. Where have you thought of going? 

    FIELDING
    To the clean air of the countryside. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Going to the country would be a tragic mistake. To see life you should remain in London. In London you will see as much of life as the world can offer. 

    GARRICK 

    Yes. But I'm reminded of John Gay's "Beggar's Opera", a charming and intriguing piece, featuring highwaymen, whores, and corrupt politicians. A veritable guidebook on contemporary London. That's the problem we face. 

    [GOLDSMITH returns.] 

    FIELDING 

    The prodigal child returns to the adulation of us all! We are so happy to see you back, Dr Goldsmith! We have been very worried about you. Why has your return taken so long? 

    GOLDSMITH 

    I was caught without umbrella in a dreadful thunderstorm. I had to go to my lodgings for a change of clothes. 

    SWIFT
    What of the girl? Is she with you? 

    GOLDSMITH 

    No, she is not. She had other ideas. I have no notion where she is. Maybe she went to Mother Needham's for all I know, or maybe she's didn't. She could be anywhere. The girl needs shelter. And food. The 

    girl is always hungry. Always. 

    SWIFT
    What sort of ideas did the girl have? 

    GOLDSMITH 

    She didn't tell me, but she is a country girl who's come to London to improve her life. She has been very hungry since arriving in London. Her life in the city is clearly not what she expected. She is hungry all the time. She doesn't want to starve here. She wants to live a fine life, with elegant things. That is not possible for ordinary girls. 

    SWIFT 

    Mr Hogarth, don't you have any regular work for the girl? You had her working for you today. Can you not give her employment? 

    HOGARTH 

    No, Dean Swift, I can not, and that's what I told the girl right from the start. Today was a special circumstance in honor of the visit of you distinguished gentlemen. I have no openings for her, nor does anyone I know. 

    GARRICK
    Does all this mean that Henny has chosen to walk the streets? 

    GOLDSMITH
    I hope not. I suggested an alternative... 

    GARRICK 

    The alternative being what? 

    GOLDSMITH 

    As I hinted to you, I gave her my personal recommendation to Mother Needham, who is probably less vicious than her reputation. Those things are sometimes quite exaggerated. Mother Needham could provide food and shelter for the girl. 

    SWIFT 

    I've heard of this woman. She is said to being very ugly ugly to her girls, working them 'till they're exhausted to the bone. She sometimes imprisons the new girls to bend their wills. 

    [ENTER JANE with ESTER THRALE.] 

    HOGARTH 

    Welcome, Mrs Thrale! We are so pleased that you stopped by to see us. Gentlemen, I had invited Dr Johnson's dear friend Ester Thrale to join us, but she has pressing obligations elsewhere. However, she wanted to stop by just briefly, to cheer us on. Welcome 

    again, Mrs Thrale!
    [ALL raise their glasses.] 

    JANE 

    I'm back again to bring ale to Mr Goldsmith. [She pours ale into his mug. And I'll soon have a new pot of tea for you, Dr Johnson -- it's hard to keep up with you, sir, you love your tea so much. I've never seen the likes! I'm going to fill in for Henny now, since she deserted 

    you gentlemen. 

    GOLDSMITH Thank you, Madam! 

    JANE
    You are very kind. Where is our Henny then? 

    GOLDSMITH
    She may have entered a kind of home. 

    JANE
    A convent? I didn't imagine Henny was devout. Is Henny devout? 

    GOLDSMITH
    Perhaps not. The home she's joined is, I believe, non-denominational. 

    JANE
    What is its name? 

    GOLDSMITH
    I'm not sure. I can't remember. 

    SWIFT 

    Nolly, if you keep drinking ale in excess, you'll lose what little is left of your memory. 

    GOLDSMITH 

    That must be the problem, then. It must be the drink. I will stop drinking some day soon. That will be the solution. 

    [There is a silence as the gentlemen look at one another. HOGARTH seems devastated. JANE joins him downstage as the other gentlemen remain where they are, in conversation the viewers cannot hear.] 

    JANE
    Billy, you look just dreadful. What can I do? 

    HOGARTH
    Nothing. This is all my fault, all my fault. I feel I am going mad. 

    JANE
    Have some ale, Billy. Put this sad business behind you. 

    HOGARTH 

    I have lost my mind. If the girl's at Mother Needham's, Needham's friend Colonel Charteris will rape that poor sweet girl! That is what that monster does, it is his specialty! 

    JANE 

    Billy, you can't right every wrong. Get back to your work. But the rest of you: take action! 

    [Song, "Take Action"] Take action! 

    Put aside your precious ale And show the way
    Put your wits now to avail And you will save the day! 

    Take action!
    Hold your heads up high
    And find a way
    Take the lessons from your books And make them pay! 

    For now is the time when wisdom will matter If wisdom can turn into strength
    Don't let your forces scatter
    Push your courage to any length 

    TAKE ACTION!
    [NOW TO Hogarth's guests, whom he rejoinsj.] 

    DR JOHNSON 

    The girl's imprisonment shall not not stand! Jane Hogarth is right to call us to action: that girl is one of our own. Gather around me. I am forming a war council. We gentlemen are called to save that girl! We must be single-minded now and do just that! 

    [POPE,SWIFT, & others, Song,"London Gents Will Rise to the 

    Occasion!"] 

    London gents may have their sins
    Too much ale among them
    Rosy girls they later rue
    but still they shout "Cherchez la femme" 

    London gents may have their faults Too much gin among them
    Rosy dreams and crazy schemes that sometimes turn against them 

    But Oh! On some distant sunburnt shore They will find a wrong that
    must be rectified,
    A truth that must be recognized, 

    A cause that calls for war!
    Then London gents will
    RISE to the occasion!
    RISE to the occasion!
    And do their very, very best AND MORE. 

    — ACT TWO — 

    DR JOHNSON
    Gather around me, gather around. I am forming our war council. 

    FIELDING
    A war council? Who is our enemy, sir? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    We have many enemies -- pestilence, disease, ignorance, and the wantonness growing every day, destroying a whole generation. 

    SWIFT 

    Sir, how can we fight all these enemies? They are everywhere and they are relentless, yet there are only a few of us. 

    DR JOHNSON
    We shall fight them wherever we can, Dean Swift. 

    GARRICK
    And will we win? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Of course we will win, sir, but only in those places where we fight. We will use our fists and we will crush them. We will find the missing girl, return her to safety, and write her lesson plans, based on our different areas of EXPERIENCE -- a word for which I have already provided expositions in my dictionary. Words like 'success' and 'victory' I have yet to deal with. 

    FIELDING
    Dr Johnson, if I may say so, this project will be hard to organize. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    No, sir, it will be simplicity itself. I will remain here in Mr Hogarth's house, to operate Command Central. Dr Goldsmith will remain here with me at Headquarters, and stay out of further trouble. We have as company Mr Hogarth, who will also stay out of trouble —unless he provokes it through his art works. That is certainly possible. 

    FIELDING
    And the rest of us? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    The rest of you are warriors, so you must prepare for combat. Do you have your horses ready? 

    SWIFT
    No, I will require a carriage. 

    HOGARTH
    I can provide one. 

    POPE
    May I ride with you, Dean Swift? 

    SWIFT 

    I would be delighted, sir. 

    GARRICK
    And I, Dr Johnson? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Mr Garrick, you and Mr Fielding will mount your horses and scour the countries east of London, making enquiries about the girl. 

    GARRICK
    If we don't find her, sir? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Then try the north. Or the south. I leave that up to you. That will be completely within your own discretion. Consult my dictionary for the full meaning of the word 'discretion.' It's in there. 

    FIELDING
    But if we still don't find her, we keep looking for her? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Exactly. Well-said. You are becoming an EXCELLENT detective -- another word well-explicated in my dictionary. 

    FIELDING
    Dr Johnson, you are setting us out on a long and arduous journey. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Exactly. And so you needs must saddle up at once and begin that journey. 

    GARRICK
    I see many difficulties ahead. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    So do I. But nothing will ever be attempted if all objections must first be overcome. Saddle up and be on your way! 

    [song, "Saddle Up] FIELDING, GARRICK] 

    FIELDING
    We must be steadfast. We must urge ourselves on! 

    [sings] Saddle up!
    Be as courageous
    as the horse you're riding.
    don't question things
    Don't fill your mind be with doubt Let fly your wings
    and let your courage be abiding! 

    Saddle up!
    Let our vic'try be a rout! 

    And not until you've reached it shall you sup. 

    [CUT TO EXTERIOR. NIGHT: FIELDING and GARRICK are riding side-by-side on a country road. Garrick's horse comes to an abrupt halt. I think the horse should probably be made entirely of mettle rods, except for its head, which should be more realistic.] 

    GARRICK 

    He's thrown a shoe. Oh dear Lord. We're in the middle of nowhere. What should I do? 

    FIELDING
    Give him a stern talking to. 

    GARRICK You're joking. 

    FIELDING
    I've been known to make jokes. 

    GARRICK
    This is no time to make one. It's almost midnight. 

    FIELDING
    Shall I wait an hour and tell my joke just before one o'clock? 

    GARRICK
    Sir, we're not in a Henry Fielding novel! 

    FIELDING 

    No, I shouldn't think so. I wouldn't have written us into this predicament. 

    GARRICK
    Well, what should we do? I'm a city man, not a country squire. 

    FIELDING 

    I never would have known. All right, tie up your horse where he'll have plenty to feed on, and then climb up here with me on Solitude and we'll be on our way. 

    GARRICK
    His name is Solitude? 

    FIELDING 

    Only if he answers to that name when I call him. Come on, let's be on our way. Hop up behind me. We're not making much progress with our search, and it's going to get even harder. 

    [GARRICK gets behind on the horse, looking extremely uncomfortable.] 

    GARRICK Especially for me. 

    [They ride off further into the night.] 

    [song, "Saddle up" continued, more forlornly] 

    Saddle up!
    Be as steadfast as a hangman hanging! Don't question things
    Don't fill your mind with doubt
    Let fly your wings,
    Let winning be a rout!
    So saddle up!
    Let vic'try be your goal
    And not until you've reached it shall you sup! 

    [EXTERIOR, AFTERNOON. On the street outside of Mother Needham's establishment in London.] 

    SWIFT
    Did you talk to this Mother Needham person? 

    POPE
    No, I asked to speak to her, but was told she was not available. 

    SWIFT
    Who told you this? 

    POPE 

    Some kind of servant woman, I suppose. Very tall, at least to me. Not a kind person. 

    SWIFT
    Why do you say she was unkind? What did she say to you? 

    POPE
    She called me a hunchback worm! 

    SWIFT 

    Your back isn't hunched, Mr. Pope. Not really. Not extremely. I've seen worse. 

    POPE
    But you think me a worm? 

    SWIFT
    I didn't say that. The woman said that. Do you feel like a worm? 

    POPE
    Sometimes. Not always. 

    SWIFT
    There you go then. You're not a worm. What did the woman look like? 

    POPE 

    She was sinister-looking and very ugly. She could have been an old witch of some denomination. 

    SWIFT 

    Well, we'll come to the house again this afternoon. This time I'll try to get in myself. 

    POPE
    Why? Because I'm a worm? 

    SWIFT
    I just told you that you aren't a worm. I gave you my assurances. 

    POPE
    Then why do you want to return here. To see the ugly old witch? 

    SWIFT
    To find the missing girl. 

    POPE 

    Oh, the girl. The girl. I'd actually forgotten the girl. The old crone confused and distracted me with her accusations of my wormness. In my confusion I even forgot to shout at her and tell her I am not a worm. 

    SWIFT 

    Regrettable, Mr Pope. But you're not a worm. No more than many people I have known. 

    POPE 

    I know that, Dean Swift. And I thank you for that. And that ugly old witch may go to hell. 

    SWIFT
    Give her no further thought. 

    POPE
    All right. But I'm not a worm. 

    SWIFT
    I've already told you that. 

    POPE
    And I believe you. I'm not a worm. 

    [sings, "I'm Not a Worm"] 

    I'm not a worm I'm a poet A certain kind of scholar A certain kind of lover
    I'm a man! 

    I can write fine verses, I can soar. I can best my betters with a roar, 

    Can silence my foes with a -- snore, drawer, floor, whore, four, bore -- silence my foes with a --
    Wait, I'll need to think on't some more! 

    [CUT TO INTERIOR, HOGARTH'S STUDIO, DAYLIGHT.] 

    JANE
    Where are your gentlemen friends? 

    HOGARTH [at his easel]
    Most of them have ridden off in search of that girl Henny. 

    JANE
    I could use her in the kitchen. I need another helper. 

    H0GARTH
    You should have told me that earlier. It's too late now. 

    JANE
    Why? What happened to her? 

    HOGARTH
    Oliver Goldsmith took her God knows where and left her there. 

    JANE
    And where is Dr Goldsmith now? 

    HOGARTH
    Behind our house, relieving himself in our privy. 

    JANE
    And where is Dr Johnson? 

    HOGARTH 

    He's waiting at the privy, poor man. Twitching in his normal mode, but even worse. He must really need to go. 

    JANE 

    All that tea he drinks! I'm not surprised. I'm just surprised he doesn't spend all his days relieving himself. 

    HOGARTH 

    Indeed. He never drinks ale. That is why he is so intelligent. Or so he thinks. 

    JANE 

    No, I think that is why he stammers and blinks like a madman. That much tea is not good for a sane person... Nor that much
    ale. Mr Goldsmith drinks more ale than any man alive. 

    [CUT TO: DR JOHNSON pounding outside on door of privy] DR JOHNSON 

    Cout! Come out at once! You've been in there forever. Come out! GOLDSMITH [from inside the privy] 

    I can't. I'm still exerting myself. 

    DR JOHNSON
    Yes you can. Finish your business and come out, you beastly man! 

    GOLDSMITH I cant, I can't. 

    DR JOHNSON
    I beg you, I beg you, I BEG YOU!!!... Please. 

    [GOLDSMITH leaves the privy to be replaced by DR JOHNSON] 

    [Song, Oliver Goldsmith, "I feel much better"] 

    I feel much better now The clouds have passed I see the sky again
    I hear the lark!
    I feel much better! 

    [DR JOHNSON and OLIVER GOLDSMITH re-entering Hogarth's 

    studio.] 

    HOGARTH
    Good morning, gentlemen. I hope you slept well last night. 

    JANE 

    Dr Johnson, you look very fit and jolly this morning. Did you have a nice walk? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    No, madam, my fitness and jollity are derived from my use of your sturdy and excellent privy. I feel much relieved now and much jollier than before. 

    JANE 

    Sir, I have never imagined great gentlemen such as you relieving yourselves. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    It's just as well, Mrs Hogarth, that you do not imagine it, but we do indeed relieve ourselves with some regularity, if that is possible. Otherwise our brains would explode. 

    HOGARTH 

    Good gentlemen, please protect your brains for our sake and for the world's. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    You're too kind, sir. What are you painting today? 

    HOGARTH 

    In my head I'm working on dozens of scenes. On my easel I'm painting a scene for my new subscription series to be called "A Harlot's Progress." 

    GOLDSMITH
    Was it inspired by our missing girl? 

    DR JOHNSON
    Do we know for certain that she is a harlot? 

    HOGARTH 

    No to both questions. I can never remember where inspirations come from, and we do not know for certain that she is a harlot -- only that she seems to have made some unsavory
    acquaintances. Dr Goldsmith introduced her to a certain Mother Needham, without realizing the consequences of that careless action. 

    GOLDSMITH 

    I am very sorry for any part I may have had in allowing that to happen. I hope that all of you will forgive me. I should stp drinking ale. Eventually I will. 

    JANE 

    I'm sure we all forgive you, sir. The main thing now is to find the poor girl. 

    GOLDSMITH 

    I wanted to go out with the search party but Dr Johnson wouldn't let me. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Since I am commander-in-chief, along with Mr Hogarth, you must trust my judgement. I'm sure I'll have work for you to do before all this affair is over. 


    SONG commander-in-chief

    JANE 

    Dr Johnson, I've been horribly negligent toward you. Would you like to have another pot of tea? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Yes indeed. It's good for the soul. Tea's proper use is to amuse the idle, relax the studious, and aid the digestion of those who do not exercise and are incapable of abstinence. I belong in all those categories. 

    [song, DR JOHNSON, "The Proper Use of Tea." 

    Nothing is more wonderful than tea,
    Not even history, not even thee.
    Love is a mystery, but tea is real
    Nothing can capture how it makes me feel! 

    Nothing is more magical than tea, 

    Not even whiskey, not even ale.
    Love is mysterious but tea can never fail, With tea in his belly a sailor will sail. 

    GOLDSMITH
    Sir, what are you doing in your role as commander-in-chief? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    I am waiting, and I am in charge. I am engaged in watchful waiting. That is my role, and I will fulfill it with the same diligence that is evidenced by my scholarship and by the patience evidenced by the many years I've devoted to the construction of my encyclopedic Dictionary of the English language! A scholar must know how to wait, as must a leader, and both must also know how to POUNCE! I know how to pounce, and will pounce when the time comes! 

    HOGARTH
    When will that time come to pounce? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Soon, sir, very soon. Stay at the ready. Then we will pounce. All of us. And then I'll get back to my Dictionary. 

    JANE
    God bless you, sir. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Of course He will. Our cause is just, and I am the commander-in- chief! Admittedly co-commander, with Mr Hogarth, but all the same. I am commander-in-chief 

    [Cut by lighting to: EXTERIOR, NIGHT. — FIELDING and GARRICK remain lost in the countryside.] 

    GARRICK
    Where are we, Mr Fielding? 

    FIELDING
    Lost, Mr Garrick. 

    GARRICK
    But we were lost two hours ago. 

    FIELDING
    Well, we are wonderfully consistent. We are still lost. 

    GARRICK 

    I take little comfort in our consistency. I am exhausted beyond belief. My bones are aching. I hate this countryside that you claim to love so much. I hate being lost. 

    FIELDING
    Then you will also hate hearing about Tom Jones. 

    GARRICK Your novel? 

    FIELDING 

    My horse. Our horse -- the same horse which has nobly been bearing your weight as well as mine, through all this mud and muck. The horse I sometimes call Solitude and sometimes call Tom Jones. Tom, too, is exhausted beyond belief. I hope he is not dying. I fear he is. 

    GARRICK 

    That would be a catastrophe for all three of us! I include Tom Jones, even though he is but a brute animal. What is Mr Jones's immediate problem, other than dying? 

    FIELDING 

    He is stuck in the mud. So are we, sir. I think we need to treat Tom as we did when we had to abandon his stable mate -- find a place to graze on the land, and wish him fond farewell. 

    GARRICK 

    But what of us? I'm not a country lad like you, I can't eat the grass to stay alive. 

    FIELDING 

    Oh, neither can I, I must admit. Well, let us find a way to return to town, to see what progress our comrades have made. 

    GARRICK
    By walking all the way to London! 

    FIELDING 

    By hitching a ride from one of the farmers who graciously cart
    their cows milk each morning to town for sale to city dwellers -- people such as you who may never have seen a cow that was not in a book for children. The word 'hitch' can be found in the great Dictionary being authored by our friend Dr Samuel Johnson, whom we will see again very soon. 

    GARRICK 

    Not soon enough, sir. Wait, be careful where you're walking! Careful, careful. You're avoiding the mud puddles but you're about to step in ... Oh, too late, TOO LATE! 

    [FIELDING stumbles into the mud puddle, or something worse.] 

    [CUT TO: EXTERIOR, EARLY MORNING... FIELDING and GARRICK are sitting uncomfortably and forlornly in the back of a milk wagon headed to London.] 

    [CUT TO: EXTERIOR, MORNING. Outside of Mother Needham's fortress-like bawdy house. POPE and SWIFT plan their strategy.] 

    POPE
    Are you ready to mount your assault on Mother Needham's? SWIFT 

    No, I want to wait until this afternoon, when the house has come fully alive. I'm just reminding myself of the nature of my challenge. For the moment we should return to our carriage and take a turn or two around town. See the sights, as it were. 

    POPE 

    Are you nervous about trying to gain access to the house? 

    SWIFT 

    Not at all. I shall just present myself and show my seriousness of purpose. 

    POPE
    I'd be willing to try again. Today is another day. SWIFT
    The woman regarded you as a worm, or so you said. 

    POPE 

    I'm not a worm. 

    SWIFT 

    I agree. You are not a worm. I thought we had settled the issue yesterday. 

    POPE
    It keeps coming up.
    SWIFT
    I didn't bring it up. Who brought it up? 

    POPE
    The woman brings it up. SWIFT
    The woman is not here. 

    POPE 

    She brings it up in my mind. I can't expunge her loathsome spirit from my brain. 

    SWIFT 

    Let's take a jaunt and see the sights. That should clear your brain and give you a fresh outlook on the world. 

    INTERIOR OF A CARRIAGE, LATE MORNING. POPE and SWIFT 

    The two gentlemen watch the passing scene as the carriage passes through the Strand, Haymarket, and surrounding areas. They say 'Look, look over there!" -- and what they call attention to are wealthy gentlemen dandies, obvious prostitutes of varying financial conditions, very poor people, drunk people imbibing from the gin bottles in their hands, mothers so drunk they can not hold on to their babies, and pickpockets in the actual act of robbing from their victims. But finally the trip is over. [the scene may be accomplished perhaps by video or slides of HOGARTH engravings, etc.] 

    [Song, "London at its worst.] 

    London at its very worst
    Is not a pretty sight
    All the pipes have burst The town is mud and blight. 

    London at its darkest ... 

    is not a source of light.
    The roads and lanes are cursed
    the day is dead the rest is dreadful night. 

    SWIFT 

    I think we've seen enough, my friend. Let us take some lunch and then get back to Mother Needham's. 

    Yes, you have work to do, since you are not a worm. You're not, are we agreed? 

    POPE
    We are agreed! 

    EXTERIOR, AFTERNOON, OUTSIDE OF MOTHER NEEDHAM'S MANSION 

    [SIREN song: the ladies of Mother Needham's house sing and dance to entice customers.] 

    Come visit us, dearie, We won't hurt you at all, 

    We will make things better We will be your debtor 

    for the pleasure you will give to us. 

    Come play with us, sweetie, So we can blend ourselves Mend ourselves with you, We will be your debtor 

    for the treasure you will give to us. 

    For all around us people lie
    But not you not you
    You will pay just what you said you would when you said that you'd always be true. 

    POPE
    Dean Swift, have you become nervous yet?
    SWIFT
    No, I told you I wasn't nervous this morning, and nothing has changed. POPE
    What has changed is that the time for ACTION has arrived. 

    SWIFT 

    I am not nervous. 

    POPE
    You have not yet seen the woman or her girls. 

    [SWIFT walking to the house and being admitted by the spiteful woman referenced by Pope.] 

    WOMAN
    Which of our girls do you wish to see? SWIFT
    I WISH TO SEE THEM ALL. 

    SONG MOTHER NEEDHAM"Parade of the Girls" 


    WOMAN 

    You want to see them ALL? I have 17 girls here now. You don't have sufficient stamina for that. 

    SWIFT 

    How do you know? I'll be the decider of that. 

    WOMAN 

    Ultimately the girls will decide, but you're right: it's not for me to judge. It's for you to prove. 

    SWIFT
    Good. Bring me your girls. 

    WOMAN
    No, sir. Many of them are sleeping. 

    SWIFT
    It's three o'clock in the afternoon now, madam. 

    WOMAN
    But many of the girls were working until dawn. There was a party. It was a very successful party indeed, judged by the broken champagne bottles. I'll show you some girls. [She beckons to a servant, who immediately ushers into the room three girls of different ages and descriptions.] 


    SONG MOTHER NEEDHAM"Parade of the Girls" 


    SONG GIRLS “Siren Song”

    Which of these beautiful ladies pleases you the most? 

    SONG GIRLS “Siren Song”

    SWIFT 

    None of them pleases me. 

    WOMAN 

    I can not imagine why you are displeased. I showed three of my loveliest ladies. 

    SWIFT Keep trying. 

    WOMAN 

    I'll show you three more, sir. [She beckons again to the servant, who removes the first three and ushers in three more young ladies.] 

    SWIFT
    These also won't do. Not that I want to hurt their feelings. WOMAN 

    No worries, sir. Mr Swift, is it? My girls have no feelings. They are steeled. Feelings would detract from their work. Perhaps for an extra remuneration I could have one of the girls summoned who is still asleep. What sort of young lady does the gentlemen prefer? What hair color, height, age, bosoms, and so forth? What sort of girl would you most like to inspect? 

    SWIFT 

    Please bring to me a teenaged blond girl newly arrived from the country. She is known as Henny or Henrietta. 

    WOMAN 

    Sir, don't dare to play with me. Are you a friend of that crooked little worm who came asking for her? 

    SWIFT
    Yes, madam, he is my friend — but he is not really a worm. WOMAN 

    That is your opinion, and you are wrong. You know nothing about worms. He is a bent little worm and you are an over-fed buffoon. Get out of my house at once, or my servant will have our Mr Dollar, an animal, throw you into the gutter. Now! Out! Out! 

    [SWIFT and POPE back in their carriage.] 

    POPE
    What did she say to you, exactly? 

    SWIFT
    She said 'Out, out!' 

    POPE 

    And what did you do? 

    SWIFT 

    I got out. It seemed the prudent thing to do. She threatened to have me thrashed by some brute in her employ, a Mr. Dollar or some such. Mr Dollar, indeed. 

    POPE 

    Very wise of you. I would have done the same thing myself... In fact I already did... After that woman called me a worm I no longer wished to remain in her company. So I got out, just as you did. Mr Dollar would not have provided you good conversation. 

    [CUT TO INTERIOR, AFTERNOON, HOGARTH'S STUDIO. THEY ARE ALL BACK TOGETHER NOW.] 

    HOGARTH 

    It's a pleasure to have all of you gentlemen back here again, safe and sound. 

    FIELDING 

    Our horses are dead, mine and Mr Garrick's, from the stress they were subjected to. 

    POPE
    Dean Swift and I also were subjected to stresses and taunts, which I 

    would rather not discuss, though they called into question not just my personal honour but that of this entire group. 

    SWIFT 

    Mr Pope thinks we should make the woman pay for these slurs. I cannot truthfully say I disagree with him. 

    [CUT TO GARRICK AND FIELDING] 

    GARRICK 

    My horse is in a field somewhere, maybe dead or maybe just enjoying the guilty pleasure of eating some strange man's grass. Maybe he'll be taken in by the farmer there, and live a very long life. I hope so. 

    FIELDING
    Or maybe he'll be whipped unmercifully for trespassing. 

    HOGARTH 

    In any event, my sincere thanks for the efforts you have made, however frustrating they may have been for each of you. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    As commander I add my own thanks, but I must offer you also a new challenge, since we have not yet accomplished our mission. It seems clear now that the girl Henny is being held somewhere in the house of this so-called Mother Needham. To fulfill our mission our entire group must storm that house tonight, and stealthily retrieve the missing girl. We will strike in dead of night. Be ready to leave here at midnight. We must persevere. Great works are achieved not by strength but by 

    perseverance. We will persevere, and we will prevail! 

    [CUT TO EXTERIOR, DEAD OF NIGHT. THE HUSHED GROUP IS BEHIND BUSHES AT THE SIDE OF MOTHER NEEDHAM'S HOUSE. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance. Our task tonight is exactly like that. We simply need to work together cunningly to surprise our foe and extricate the girl. Do you have any questions? 

    SWIFT
    Just how will we do this, sir? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Excellent question, Dean Swift, but since that is more a question of tactics than of strategy, I will ask Mr Hogarth, my co-commander, to give you your instructions. 

    HOGARTH 

    We will divide our efforts as follows. At three o'clock
    precisely Dr Johnson and Mr Pope will appear at the front of the house making noise and commotion and strange and frightening
    looks. Mr Fielding and Mr Garrick will be hiding at either side of the establishment, serving as lookouts, and getting the much-needed rest they earned on their recent journeys through the mud and brambles of our lovely English countryside. The remainder of us -- myself and Dean Swift and Dr Goldsmith -- will break into a second-storey window at the rear of the building, and surreptitiously make our entrance into the house. 

    GOLDSMITH
    How will we get up to the window, sir? 

    HOGARTH 

    It is you who will do all the getting up, Mr Goldsmith. Except for great quantities of ale you consume, you hardly ever eat a meal, so you are slight enough to be hoisted up to the window by Dean Swift and myself. This is a good plan because you are the only gentleman in our party to have been a regular visitor to the establishment. So your mission is simplicity itself: get in, get the girl, and get out. Then we can all go back to my house, where Mrs Hogarth will us a meal worthy of marauding conquerors, which is what we will have been. Let's go to our stations. At three o'clock we strike! 

    [SONG, "Quiet! We must surprise them"] 

    Quiet! We must surprise them!
    We will leave them them in their beds until we rise them! They will fall upon their heads when we surprise them And make a noise to wake the very dead! 

    [THE SURPRISE PARTY: 

    HENRY FIELDING, hunkered down in the bushes at one side of the house. 

    DAVID GARRICK, hunkered down in the bushes at the other side of the house. 

    HOGARTH, SWIFT, and GOLDSMITH at the rear of the house. They are trying to position the ladder properly but are having difficulty doing so without making noise. 

    DR JOHNSON and MR POPE at the front of the house. The time now is three o'clock.] 

    POPE
    It is time raise the dead. It is time to make holy hell. 

    [They use whistles and noisemakers to make extra noise at the same time as Dean Swift presses happily on the house chimes. Their enjoyment intensifies when MOTHER NEEDHAM finally opens the door, in a state of shock. They make horrible faces, and DR JOHNSON exaggerates his normal blinks and twitches. POPE imitates Johnson.] 

    POPE
    You want to see a worm in action? Here's a worm in action! 

    [MOTHER NEEDHAM faints outrageously, almost in a death spiral.] 

    [CUT TO EXTERIOR, NIGHT, THE REAR OF MOTHER NEEDHAM'S MANSION. GOLDSMITH, SWIFT, and HOGARTH, are struggling mightily with a tall ladder. SWIFT gives ups trying to climb the ladder and instead stays below to attempt to steady it. GOLDSMITH mounts the ladder, followed by HOGARTH, who steadies and pushes him.] 

    GOLDSMITH [at the window] The window is locked. 

    HOGARTH
    Of course the window is locked. Break it! 

    GOLDSMITH 

    I can't break the window. It's private private property. Breaking it would be against the law. 

    HOGARTH 

    Just go ahead and break the window. Everything we're doing is illegal. That's why it is called breaking-and-entering. 

    GOLDSMITH
    I can't do an illegal act — other than public drunkenness. 

    SWIFT [calling up from below] 

    Break it, and break it now, or I'll break your head. Break the damned thing! 

    [GOLDSMITH breaks the window and enters the house.] 

    GOLDSMITH
    [loudly whispering to the others below]
    Victory! We are in! Have the horses ready to carry the girl and all of 

    the rest of us back to Hogarth's house. 

    [MID-MORNING, HOGARTH'S STUDIO.] 

    GARRICK 

    Dr Johnson, what do you think about our little adventure rescuing that sweet little girl? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Think? Don't get me started on what I'm thinking! We don't have time in the day, or the week or the month, for me to tell you what I'm thinking! 

    FIELDING
    Then what are you feeling, sir? 

    DR JOHNSON 

    I am divinely exhilarated! I am thrilled as I have not been thrilled since I finished writing the entries for the letter 'E' in my dictionary. I am ecstatic -- which is one of the'E' words. 

    SWIFT 

    And let's have a special toast for Mr Goldsmith, who has become the greatest second-storey man in all of England, after a little boost from his friends. 

    HOGARTH Huzzah! 

    POPE 

    Nolly Goldsmith has gone from being a goat to being the hero of the hour. 

    HOGARTH 

    Although our ale has not yet been brought upstairs from below, let us go ahead now with our toast to Mr Goldsmith: Hip-hip [all: Hooray], Hip-hip [all: Hooray], Hip-Hip [all: Hooray.] Jane, where are the gentlemen's pints of good English ale? 

    JANE
    It's only mid-morning, but I am having a servant bring them up! 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Don't forget my pot of tea, please. By the way, what happened to the rescued girl? 

    JANE 

    I haven't forgotten your pot of tea, sir. And the girl is downstairs toiling at honest work in my kitchen to earn her keep in this household and her honour in civil society. She seems very happy. In fact, it is my understanding that our valued footman Ralph Lozon, is smitten with. He has offered here a proposal of marriage. 

    DR JOHNSON
    I'm glad. Dear Madam Jane, you led us correctly: Rescuing the girl 

    was the right thing to do. Bring her to us now... Ah, she is here already. IT IS A MIRACLE! 

    [HENNY arrives with the promised ale and tea.] 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Miss Henny,tell us your thoughts, please. I'm sure we would all love to hear the thoughts of such a pretty young girl who has overcome so much. If you please, my dear. Tell me your thoughts. 

    HENNY
    Yes, sir, if you wish. 

    DR JOHNSON
    Are you the same old girl we knew before? 

    HENNY
    No sir. I am entirely new. 

    [sings] 

    I'm new all over now
    New to me, new to thee, new to the world, I'm an apple tree, I'm a bumble bee,
    I'm a flag unfurled. 

    I'm all in clover now
    Glad as rain, glad as sun, glad as a baby girl. 

    I'm unsurpassed, I'm a cannon blast, I'm a top to be whirled. 

    I'm in love and my heart is more than just willing My heart says it's thrilling to swim ashore
    I'm in love, yet my head has returned to me
    I see like I'd never seen anything ever before. 

    HOGARTH 

    Let us toast again -- to our new friend HENNEY, to Mr Goldsmith and to all of us, including especially our honorable friend the
    great Dr Samuel Johnson, who led us to victory. [HOGARTH leads them in another toast.] 

    POPE 

    I can't describe the joy I felt when old Mother Needham collapsed to the ground upon seeing the fearsome faces
    of myself and Dr Johnson. Especially Dr Johnson. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Mr Hogarth, none of our great victory would have been possible without your ideas, inspiration, and general direction. I thank you, sir. I have not in my whole life had so much fun as I have had in since this adventure began. Mr Hogarth, I know I speak for us all when I say we need many more such secret and thrilling escapades, for our mental health. Can you think of any crimes to be solved or prevented? 

    HOGARTH 

    Yes, sir. I can think of dozens. There are robbers, pimps, thieves, murderers and fraudsters all over London! They are everywhere. 

    DR JOHNSON 

    Are there! That is excellent news. Make us a comprehensive
    list, Mr Hogarth, so that we will be able to spring back into action! What fun, what fun!... Our company of sleuths and adventurers must be known as 'Billy's Boys' to honor the creativity of our friend who convened this group, the great artist Billy Hogarth... But in the meantime, I needs must get back to my dictionary. I am about to begin work on words beginning with the letter 'K', a letter which is one of my very favourites. 

    SWIFT 

    I understand why you like the 'K' words, Dr Johnson. They are among my favourites too. Which ones do you like best? Do you like the word 'kill'? 

    [DR JOHNSON and DEAN SWIFT huddle together to discuss the 'K' words among them. We hear the discussion focus on the words 'kill', 'killer,' and 'killing' until we can no longer hear what they are saying.] 

    [reprise, London Gentlemen, DR JOHNSON and the COMPANY] 

    But Oh! On some distant sunburnt shore They will find a wrong that
    must be rectified,
    A truth that must be recognized, 

    A cause that calls for war!
    Then London gents will
    RISE to the occasion!
    RISE to the occasion!
    And do their very, very best AND MORE 

    THE END [Curtain and bows] 

    [IF POSSIBLE, THERE IS A LOBBY DISPLAY OF REPRODUCTIONS OF A NUMBER OF HOGARTH'S FAMOUS ART WORKS, SUCH AS 'A HARLOT'S PROGRESS,' 'THE RAKE'S PROGRESS, 'SELF- PORTRAIT,' etc.] 

    SUMMARY 

    A young girl is rescued from the notorious procuress Mother Needham in a daring raid by some of 18th-century London's greatest artists and thinkers, leaving them exhilarated and determined to embark on additional secret adventures. 


  • John Gehl - lyricist
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    John Gehl has a Bachelor of Arts degree (English and philosophy) from the University of Toronto and a Master of Science degree (information and computer science) from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Originally from New York, he has also lived in Toronto, San Francisco, and Atlanta. His plays have been produced by Atlanta theater companies and opera for which he wrote the libretto is being produced in Oakland by San Francisco’s Goat Hall Productions.